Support Group Leader Spotlight – Amy Meservey
We asked one of our more experienced support group leaders, Amy Meservey of Crystal Lake, IL, to tell us why this position is so important to both her and the local alopecia areata community she serves.
I’m Amy Meservey. I lead the support group for any age in the Chicagoland area (more specifically, in Crystal lake, IL).
I have had alopecia since I was 13 years old, and am now 50. My alopecia started as 3 small spots on the back of my head which grew back in after steroid shots. Throughout the years my hair has fallen out and grown back in many times. Currently I am at the universalis stage and have been for many years.
When I was getting food at a local Sonic, my server leaned into my car and said, “Can I ask you something”. I held my breath waiting for the usual cancer question. Instead she asked, “Do you have alopecia. I have it and this is a wig”. She went on to tell me she had never met anyone else with alopecia. I felt bad, knowing there were a few of us in the area who have alopecia, but, nowhere we could all get together and talk. I am very comfortable with my baldness and thought maybe I could help others become comfortable with theirs. Or, at least to learn to live with their alopecia. I never realized how much the group would help me, too. It is so comforting to be among a group of people who just get what you are or have been going through.
We have done many activities as a group; lazer tag, picnics, pizza parties, wig care demos, bowling, etc. About 4 years ago one of my members mentioned she is a photographer and wanted to utilize her photography to help herself and others with their alopecia. So, as a group we came up with a calendar fundraiser. We all got together for a picnic and had her take photos of us. We then collaborated and put these photos into a calendar to sell and raise funds for NAAF. We have made 2 different calendars so far and raised over $3000 for NAAF. With the calendars we have also raised awareness for alopecia. We hope to do this same fundraiser this year. We all commented that sometimes you don’t realize how others see you until you see it in a beautiful picture. It helped some see that they look awesome with no hair.
My group is like a family to me. Recently I adopted 2 “skinny” guinea pigs (bald guinea pigs) who will be the support group mascots. I thought if kids and adults can see how cute the guinea pigs are they may be able to understand how beautiful they are.
In my group I have seen a 10 year old go from being scared to tell anyone, or even talk to anyone, about her alopecia, to proudly walking around bald and at 13 wanting to start her own support group. I have seen adults go from hiding their heads to being confident in talking about their baldness. It is so rewarding.
If you haven’t done so yet, please think about reaching out to your local support group, or, if there isn’t one, create one. If you can touch even just one life, it will touch yours.